Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 13°C

min temp: 4°C

ESTD 1874 Search

Lakenheath: Three Marines to be honoured for rescue of F-15E pilot

08:30 22 December 2012

Archant

THREE Marines are to be honoured next month for their heroics during a rescue mission in Libya in which they recovered a downed Air Force pilot, from a Suffolk air base.

shares

Capt Erik Kolle, Capt David Potter and Sgt Daniel Howington are scheduled to receive the Air Medal with combat distinguishing device on January 7.

The trio were involved in one of the Libya campaign’s most high-profile missions. They are credited with quickly preparing and launching from the amphibious assault ship Kearsarge with a 30-man recovery force. Under cover of darkness, they flew 150 miles to the crash sight of an Air Force F-15E near the city of Benghazi March 22, 2011.

They recovered Air Force pilot Maj Kenneth Harney, who along with his weapons system officer, Capt Tyler Stark, ejected from the aircraft. Maj Harney evaded Libyans while on foot for nearly four miles, until the Marines could reach him.

The commander of the rescue mission Col Mark Desens told reporters in July 2011 that Capt Stark ended up in a Benghazi hotel after being taken in by Libyan rebels. It left the Marines to recover Harney. Those involved said last year they were concerned they would face anti-aircraft fire, especially because they weren’t sure why the F-15E had crashed. The Air Force later determined an engine malfunction brought it down.

“That area was still contested,” said Capt Kolle. “We were planning for the worst case.”

Dozens of Marines, two CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters, two Ospreys, two AV-8B Harriers and a KC-130J tanker were involved in the mission. The Ospreys — each carrying about 15 reconnaissance Marines launched at 1.33am from the Kearsarge, about 130 nautical miles from the crash site.

The crash occurred on the third night of NATO forces bombing military targets in Libya, as Gadhafi’s forces laid siege to rebels fighting to overthrow him.

The plane was based at RAF Lakenheath but was flying out of Aviano Air Base, in Italy.

Capt Colle landed his Osprey at 2.38am with the help of a laser designator from an F-16 flying overhead. “I landed in front of him maybe 50 yards,” he said. “We were on deck about five seconds and the crew chief said, ‘Hey, we got him.’ So I was like, ‘Roger that, we’re getting out of here!’”

shares

0 comments

Sir John French: a colourful character and respected soldier

We’ve heard about the Suffolk men who fought at the battle of Neuve Chapelle.

Ipswich Crown Court

A 19-year old man who met up with a 13-year-old girl and exchanged text messages with her despite being given a police caution for kissing her several months earlier has been sentenced to 21 months youth detention.

St Edmundsbury Cathedral overlooking colourful displays in the Abbey Gardens

Suffolk’s most important religious building has been awarded a £300,000 Government grant to pay for urgent roof repairs.

Josephine Murphy

An 86-year-old woman who had gone missing from Clacton has been found safe and well

Aftermath of a barn fire in Holton.

A television antiques expert has appealed for help rebuilding his eco-friendly arts centre in Suffolk after a major blaze destroyed the historic sawmill that was to be its showroom and workshops.

Darsham Nurseries head chef Lola DeMille and chef Tom Eagle in the cafe where they are donating money from one of the dishes to the World Land Trust.

An international conservation charity based in Suffolk is one of three organisations to benefit from a new campaign raising awareness about the impact of meat production on health, welfare and the environment.

Suffolk County Council's base at Endeavour House

Up to 23 jobs could go in a major shake-up of Suffolk County Council’s education services.

Latitude Festival, at the Henham Estate near Southwold

Suffolk poet Luke Wright has seen the Latitude festival grow from a modest boutique gathering in 2006 to one of Britain’s biggest music and arts events.

The vandals tore through Bury St Edmunds

A drunken “night of madness” saw vandals rack up over £5,000 of damage to cars, pubs and property as they roamed the streets of Bury St Edmunds.

Fire crews

Firefighters tackled a lorry fire in Ipswich last night, after police reported the vehicle in Hatfield Road.

Most read

Most commented

Topic pages